A Tragedy of Delay: I turned 18 in an election year…

Committed to Democracy

I was so excited!  My voice was finally going to be heard!  18 and full of opinions, full of optimism, there was nothing I didn’t know.  I was especially sure that I would put down my X where it would count.  I was as sure about that as I was sure that I wanted to one day be the first female Leader of Government Business.  Mind you, I hadn’t yet decided who I was going to vote for.  But serving my country was all I ever wanted to do.  My little X would mark the beginning of that journey and the end of it was limited only by the sky.  Me and Cayman, we were in love back then!

And then the General Election was called for… get this… 4 DAYS before my 18th birthday.  I was crushed!

Four years to wait and in those four years another election was called.  I had been overseas at University before the registration deadline but had sent my documents in to be registered in time. My dreams were not very different but I wanted to be educated.  I’d heard that world leaders throughout time had often been best prepared with a law degree.  And so I was off getting me one.  The officer who received my documents misplaced them for some or no reason.  I came home from University sure that I would vote.  This time I’d even gone so far as to say I know who I will vote for.  Only to find out my name was not on the list. And so I missed that one too.  As you can well imagine, I was disappointed.  When would I become a political adult?  A voice that would be counted?

Resigned to the realities, I settled myself to work for the Elections Office.  If I couldn’t be a part of the decision, I would at least be a part of the process.  It was the first election I worked and I’ve worked for every one since.  I was a poll clerk in Bodden Town and after the close of the polls I got in my car and made it to St. George’s Anglican Church from BT Primary School in five minutes to be a part of the count.  It was the first time I saw the ballot papers come to life and a decision that would change history and it was remarkable.  It was so remarkable I wrote about it in my diary… the experience had to be put into words.  The entry was shown to one of my parents who asked me to type it up.  It ended up in the Caymanian Compass.  It was a gorgeous experience that I will never forget and I’m glad that I had the presence of mind to write it all down.

Another four years came by and by this time I was living in West Bay.  When the time came to register I didn’t.  This wasn’t my district and I hadn’t become connected to the process.  It wasn’t about parties or personalities but I’d have loved to have cast my first vote in Bodden Town.  As it wasn’t possible without some false declarations I settled back and decided this time I would voluntarily pass.  It was the beginning of practiced indifference that has led to the entry of earlier today.  I now am part of a growing statistic of young and eligible Caymanians who have never voted.

In this year, however, I ran a polling station for the first time.  I wasn’t selected for the count but I was no less fascinated by the process.  It cemented in my mind a commitment to democracy as the system above all others, where those who vote cannot complain and where losers cannot claim that victors have denied them an opportunity to contribute.

I have today worked in several elections, including the Referendum of the past week as a servant to democracy.  Democracy itself, not politics.  The system itself, not the names populating the ballot or the parties that have waved their flags.

Yes, I have never registered to vote.  To be clear, it wasn’t for lack of trying – at least not at first.  I didn’t register in time for this Referendum, but I might have if I’d been paying attention.

It didn’t begin in an indifferent and irresponsible place, this question To Vote or Not To Vote.  It began with someone who really wanted to, a lover of country and of countryman working hard to do good.

What surprises me is that I am not the only one not registered to vote.  There are hundreds of my peers who have had a far more convenient opportunity to vote and never have.  I note with interest that there are near 15,000 registered voters in Cayman.  When you consider that my high school was near 1,000 and that we qualified at 18 years old over a decade ago, that number looks really small, doesn’t it?  The three graduating classes behind us were even closer to 1,000 and the three ahead of us… if all the persons I went to school with registered you’d be looking at just under 3,000 voters right there!

But we aren’t voting.  And I ask the question WHY?

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The Power and The Vote: A discussion around voting and whether or not you should

Gimme somethin better than this!

As an introduction to this discussion, let me first introduce myself.  I am a single 20-something Caymanian woman.  I have no children, some tertiary education, a home, a decent job, religious beliefs, an interest in reading and a love of writing.  You will know from reading this that I have a blog, I am not short of words and I am not short of opinions.

I have never registered to vote.

This shocks many people and I have until now been very careful who I say this to.  But, you know what, I feel good about ME.  So there it is.  Near a score and ten I have never voted.

A few more facts before I get down to business and what this discussion is about – not only am I not short of words or of opinions, I am not short of friends.  Put an extrovert in a small town and you end up with something like me – I know thousands of people, have to cull my facebook monthly to keep it under the sweet spot of 800 friends, can hang out in any district in Cayman and about every level the society has to offer, and have a pretty good feel of the state of our society as a whole.  I say all this to say…

I have ONE close friend in the twenty-somethings who voted on Wednesday.  ONE.

 Now let’s talk about why that is.

I do not presume to have the answer to this question.  I cannot and will not speak for my entire generation.  I am inviting YOU, the people I know, to explain to me why you are not on the voters list.

I would also like to invite those who are on the list who strongly (or not) believe in the power of the vote to engage me.  Convince me.  Leave a comment on this blog or on this page and tell me why you choose to vote and why I should.  A little later I’ll put my own two-cents about my WHY of it.  Keep an eye out.

ONE RULE:  I ask that you respect the non-partisan nature of this page.  For those of you with a party to plug, plug it elsewhere.   I am not inviting the left, the right, the middle, the green, the orange, the red or the blue to sing the party songs on this page.  If you do it your comment will be removed – don’t be upset, you’ve been warned.  Save that stuff for those who are registered and we will be just fine thank you.

This is about the system and whether or not and if so how much one should participate.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?